Many times when we think of being tempted or temptations, we think of a big obvious pulling for us to do wrong, but I am starting to see that it is not always the big things that tempt us, but the little subtle temptations to not die out to our will that ends up being a big battle. For me lately I have had to stay before God and ask him to give me the grace to continue to remain in his will in dealing with someone who I feel is a thorn in my side. A very hurtful thorn that is just scratching away at my skin, which I now know is not as tough as it needs to be.We know that as saved Christians we are supposed to show love to everyone at all times, even our enemies.
I have been thinking a lot lately about really having "thick skin" spiritually. I don't know what it feels like literally to have a thorn in one's side, but I imagine it is extremely hurtful. I have scraped my thumb on a rose thorn or something like that and it hurt like the dickens, but to have one stuck in my skin and to have the doctor tell me " we can't remove it, but we can give you something to make it more bearable" would seem crazy to me. But this is what God told Paul, he told him, "No, I won't take it away, but I will give you the grace to withstand it".
We repeat that Scripture over and over in our Christian walk, but I am actually meditating upon it. These are just some examples of the No's God has told me.
- NO: I won't make that person be nicer to you; but I will give you the grace to show extra kindness even when they are becoming more vindictive.
- NO: I won't make your financial situation change at this moment; but I will give you the grace to be more resourceful, appreciative, frugal, and I will make you cleave to closer to me for your daily portion of bread.
- NO:I won't make them understand your point of view; however I will give you the grace to take and hold fast to your faith unwavering and bold.
- NO: I won't make your child become first time obedient; but I will give you the grace to grow in first time obedience to me and leave an example for your child to follow.
- NO: I won't take away all your pregnancy ailments; but I will give you the grace to endure and to love this child even more for your sacrifice.
- NO: I won't make your life as easy as you want it; but I will give you the grace to be content in the state that you are in.
- NO: I won't give you support on that issue that you are seeking, but I will give you the grace and mercy to see that you are wrong and I will turn your feet around to the right path. I will keep that person in your life who will tell you my truth, and I will give you the grace to measure up to it.
- NO: I won't allow you to receive the appreciation you feel you deserve; but I will give you the grace to realize that you are doing all things unto me and not unto man. I will also give you the knowledge and understanding that I am a rewarder of those who diligently seek me.
None of us likes to hear the word NO. If we say we do all the time, then we are not being totally honest. But the good thing about that is, that we have a Father who not only may tell us NO, but will help us through surrendering our hurt, swallowing our pride, and yielding unto his will in order to receive a higher blessing of His grace.
Scripture tells us to heap coals of fire on their head and to love our enemies. This also applies to our loved ones who are not our enemy, but may not be treating us as mandated by Scripture. If we know and believe what we read, how then does this become a test for us; and how does it become a test not to fall victim to our own will and retreat to our turtle shell of protection? We protect ourselves in many ways, we lash back, we render evil for evil, word for word, we whine to others, we sulk, pout and stomp our feet until we get our way, or worse, we retreat into our shell of silence and distance. Flesh by far does not like to be hurt, not even a slight nick or scratch, but our tests are only to make us stronger and if this is the case, then we should be seeking God for a total strengthening of our mind, body, soul, even skin.
Just as the skin on your body is an outer layer of protection, so is your spiritual skin. If it is too thin and dry, then it will tear and little infectious things will start to penetrate through and work on deteriorating your heart, and mind, and eventually your soul. If your skin is thick, then it will protect you from tears, and things will not be able to penetrate it as easily allowing you to remain focused on God's will and not the annoying pain of dry, scaly skin.I was reading this article about temptation and how just as Jesus had only the word to use on the enemy, we too must use the word and the word only to fight him and to fight ourselves when tempted to yield unto our understanding, feelings, or will. We have to find those skin thickening scriptures and say them out loud at times in order to fight the hurt from those thorns that Satan uses to buffet us. Some thorns God may not remove, but I truly believe that as our skin thickens, the thorns buffet us less until eventually we will not even know they are there.
Be Blessed today, and Stay Encouraged and Spiritually Nourished!